Baltimore Orioles: Top Ten Prospects Heading Into 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. - JULY 15: Yusniel Diaz #17 of the World Team makes a throw during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Nationals Park on July 15, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, D.C. - JULY 15: Yusniel Diaz #17 of the World Team makes a throw during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Nationals Park on July 15, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /
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Baltimore Orioles
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA – MARCH 07: Pitcher Dean Kremer of Israel throws in the bottom of the ninth inning during the World Baseball Classic Pool A Game Two between Israel and Chinese Taipei at Gocheok Sky Dome on March 7, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images) /

Both Keegan Akin and Dean Kremer will have the opportunity to pitch for the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards in 2019.

#7) RHP Dean Kremer– Acquired as a part of the July 2018 trade that sent Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers and embarked the team on its rebuild, Kremer was sent to Bowie (AA) where he made an immediate impact.

Kremer’s first appearance in a Baysox uniform resulted in a 6.0 inning victory over the Erie Seawolves (Detroit); he allowed four hits and one earned run while striking out six and walking three.  It was a sign of things to come as Kremer would go on to make four more quality starts for the Baysox.

Overall, Kremer pitched to a 4-2 record with 53 strikeouts, 17 walks, a 1.21 WHIP and a 2.58 ERA while pitching 45.1 innings over eight appearances.  His 53 strikeouts were good for 10th on the Baysox pitching staff and 8th among the starters in his short time with the team.

The 2018 season began in Rancho Cucamonga (A-Adv.) for Kremer, where he struck out 114 California League batters in 16 appearances and finished with a 5-3 record and a 3.30 ERA.  In a single appearance for Tulsa (AA), he struck out 11, adding to his minor league-leading 178 strikeouts.

Drafted in the 14th round of the 2016 MLB Draft, Kremer finished his whirlwind 2018 season with a composite 10-5 record over 25 appearances (131.1 innings) with a 2.88 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP. Kremer uses a mid-90 mph fastball that is paired with a big breaking ball to achieve a career 11.4 strikeouts/9 innings.  He made strides with his location, slider, and change-up to tally a 12.2 K/9 rate this past season.

Invited to Spring Training 2019 as a non-roster invitee, Kremer has a chance to make a name for himself with new general manager Mike Elias and new manager Brandon Hyde. With only nine career starts at the AA level, I see Kremer returning to Bowie in 2019 but would not rule out a mid-season promotion to Norfolk (AAA).  It is early in his Orioles’ career, but this 23-year-old hurler could be in Baltimore in the near future; when that happens, we can fully evaluate the Manny Machado trade.

#6) LHP Keegan Akin- Another big-bodied lefty with a high floor, Akin is on the path to make his major league debut in 2019, likely early on if he starts strong in AAA and the major league rotation performs as expected this year.

Akin shared Jim Palmer Minor League Pitcher of the Year honors with Zac Lowther after posting a 14-7, 3.27 ERA season in Bowie, striking out 142 hitters in 137 innings of work. He produces a high amount of swings and misses (25% strikeout rate), but still walked more than 10% of hitters.

Also named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year, Akin can run his fastball into the high-90s and incorporates a bit of deception into his delivery, while showing an ability to work deep into games. Of his 25 starts, 14 of them went at least six innings and saw Akin give up three or fewer runs.

My first live look at Akin was in High-A ball where he owned the bottom half of the strike zone and limited hard-contact, very well. Ever since, I’ve been on board the Keegan Akin train. He’s another pitcher in this system who has the potential to be a successful back-end starter at the major league level, something he will get his first chance to prove, soon.